The Hague

Oliebollen (Or: It must be October)

Last year it was a huge decision to let the oliebollen stands open a month earlier, on 1 October, due to missed income (no festivals were being held, etc.). This year they also opened a month earlier, from yesterday. But this was more of a surprise as it wasn’t splashed everywhere on the news. The stands are usually allowed to be open between 1 November and mid-to-late January as oliebollen is a treat for Christmas and New Years.

But it is good news to see that the stand is back in the city centre, at the end of the Grote Markt shopping street (across from the public library). And perhaps they will be allowed to stay here; they moved to this spot some years back due to the construction around the Amare building. But construction of the Amare building is complete (previous blog post) so that is a good sign for the oliebollen stand.

In case you have no clue what oliebollen are, here is the page on English Wikipedia. Just try and read that without drooling.

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Chess tournaments (Or: Spotted at Rabbijn Maarsenplein)

Last weekend I spotted a chess tournament in full swing at Rabbijn Maarsenplein. How pre-corona!

I didn’t have time to stick around, unfortunately. But it had definitely drawn a big crowd (especially on the other side of the tables).

And in other news:

Dutch scientists may have solved mystery of why some twins are identical from theguardian.com

Campaigners head to court to have cats kept indoors from dutchnews.nl (due to how many protected bird species and other small creatures are killed each year).

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Open house by Amare (Or: Also, new greenery)

This weekend was an open house at The Hague’s newest building, the Amare cultural complex (Amare.nl, in English). It was part of the UIT Festival (uitfestivaldenhaag.nl, in English), a festival which kicks off the 2021-22 cultural season in The Hague. Some of the events are in person, some of the events are virtual. The first events at Amare are planned for later this month, including events by Nederland dans theater’s “Skin of the mind” (ndt.nl, in English).

They have planted new (temporary) plants in front of the complex, opening up the space a bit for the opening day and removed part of the gates. It is so nice to have more space in this area again! The construction zone was taking up a lot of it (and still is, on the left side of the building).

Last week Marco took a few photos of the plants being added:

And an hour later it already looked like this:

Quick work! And even a radio for some tunes.

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Through the centre of The Hague (Or: Tourist tram)

Side note: it is getting way too easy to use the British spelling for some phrases, like “centre” instead of “center”. Hmmm.

Below is a photo of the tourist tram riding through the centre (!) of the city. The Grote Kerk (literally “Big Church”) is off to the left, just out of the photo. I’ve posted a picture of this area a few times after its renovation a few years back. It looks a lot better with the greenery and stone walkways than it used to look.

Here is a photo of the church from the air (pre-renovation), from monumentenzorgdenhaag.nl. And here is information on the tourist tram, from denhaag.nl in English. Unfortunately it is a bit overpriced, but for tourists it could be nice.

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5 years later (Or: End of an era)

In 2016 the Eat Company café hired Sophia den Breems (official website) to add murals to the side of their restaurant.

Here is a link to the image I took of the first mural, winter 2015-16. I think it was my favorite.

Here is the second mural, summer 2016.

Here is the third mural, fall 2016. That photo was taken in October 2016, almost 5 years ago. But no new mural ever came after that. We were perpetually stuck in fall for years.

Imagine my surprise when I rounded the corner this week:

An end of an era, I guess. And it doesn’t look like anything new will be coming in its place, considering the worker was covering up more than just the mural itself. Who knows…

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Almost as tall as a front door (Or: Sunflower on Vondelstraat)

Here is a photo of a very tall sunflower. It’s hard to pass by without noticing it!

Maybe I should start taking a photo every month to see how tall it grows… I suspect it will soon be taller than the front door behind it.

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Architecture in the city centre (Or: Peek & Cloppenburg)

I took this photo recently of the building facade by the clothing store Peek & Cloppenburg (official website in Dutch).

This is quite typical of buildings in the Netherlands – and usually the architecture is from long ago, predating the current store at the location by decades. However, in this case the architecture was indeed designed for the Peek & Cloppenburg building (monumentenzorgdenhaag.nl, in Dutch). That article mentions that it was designed to be a counterweight to the architecture of Bijenkorf across the street (denhaag.nl, in English).

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Shortcuts (Or: Through a small alleyway)

I’ve posted a few times about the small “alleyway” street that goes by the name Bagijnestraat, not far from the Tweede Kamer. My favorite post was about the art on a garage door last May. Actually, if you click on that blog post link you will see just how many bikes are cluttering up the alleyway… which is the subject of today’s post.

A few months ago Marco, Roger and I cut through this alleyway and we noticed the “no bikes here” signs for the first time. Each sign is in a different language. For example, here is Spanish (no bicicletas aquí):

But – kind of funny, here is the German sign (wo ist der bahnhof?):

That doesn’t say “no bikes here” in German. It actually says “Where is the train station?”. That is a reference to a 1985 short, satirical Dutch film by the same name (the actual skit is only 2 minutes). Read more at this vpro.nl link (in Dutch). It is a common joke between Marco, Roger and I: “wo ist der bahnhof? …do is der bahnhof.”(Where is the train station? There is the train station!) See also the 2 minute skit at YouTube in Dutch.

As you can see, there are also plaques with a poem in the alleyway. Here is the start:

If walls had ears / and streets could cry / then resonating in the Bagijntje [street] / is an endless story. Of course it sounds better in Dutch!

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Upcoming clouds (Or: Plein 1813)

Here is a photo of the Plein 1813 monument just outside of The Hague’s city centre. If you take tram 1 to the Scheveningen beach you will ride past it, as the tram lines pass by on either side.

The slightly darkening clouds are a bit of a warning for the weather this week, although this photo is from a few weeks ago. It rained and thundered so long yesterday that I delayed my near-daily trip to the grocery store until after work. There was one moment of thunder – hitting right as I stood by a slightly ajar kitchen window – that made me jump. In a good way. Today it poured while Marco and I were making dinner, and it provided a lovely backdrop of noise. But there is more rain than not this week, with cooler temperatures hanging on for a while. It’s a bit crazy to realize when parts of the US are experiencing temperatures closer to 36C (100F). We are lucky if we hit 20C (68F).

In other news, all from the English site dutchnews.nl this time:

Panamanian ship carries massive dead whale to port of Terneuzen. The sperm whale was so large the ship didn’t even notice until they pulled into port. Yikes.

Dyke breach in Zuid Holland, was it cows or crayfish? American crayfish are definitely turning into a huge pest in the Netherlands. With no natural predators, their population is growing quickly.

Two more Dutch sites added to Unesco cultural heritage list. The Hollands Waterlinie defence lines were also recently added to the list.

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A garden for the pharmacists (Or: Behind open gates)

On Alexanderstraat, a street in The Hague, you have the Koninklijke Nederlandse Maatschappij ter bevordering der Pharmacie. Oh, what a mouthful. Translated that is the Royal Dutch Society for the Promotion of Pharmacy, an organization for pharmacists.

But what I always notice is the lovely garden outside the front door:

Their name is so long you can’t even properly fit it into one photo:

Marco and I watched the opening ceremony for the Olympics on yesterday. I can definitely say that the time difference isn’t ideal. It started at 13:00, so good luck watching that properly and while trying to work. Most of the action happens after 02:00 and ends in the early afternoon. It definitely doesn’t feel like a true Olympics (also because there are a lot less fans attending). C’est la vie.

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